Williams College: Crafting an Intentional College Experience that includes Career Exploration

Career Educators at Williams are taking an innovative look at the process of plotting a course through college. 

Using the tenets of Life Design as sparked by Stanford’s Life Design Lab, Mike O'Connor - Director, Career Discovery. Don Kjelleren - Director, Career Center and Leigh Sylvia - Associate Director, Mentor and Transition Programming have designed a one hour workshop to help Williams’ freshmen get oriented and think intentionally about how they want to approach their four years at Williams, including preparation for life beyond college.

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Williams Career Center is focused on helping Williams students approach their college experience through a lens of exploration.  O’Connor, Kjelleren and Sylvia organized 6 one hour sessions for roughly 230 first year students, with the intention to empower students to apply intentionality and mindful decision-making to their Williams experience.  Through a wayfinding exercise, and discussion of iteration and prototyping, they prompted discussion amongst these first-year students about what they hoped to get out of college and how they might explore during their time in school.  Since career readiness and finding opportunities for meaningful impact in work are also top of mind, the Williams Career Education team hoped to provide students with tangible things they could do to further explore their career interests during their four years of school.  The goal? Creative confidence in trying things in the classroom and outside it, and more intentional decision making about both their course of study and their options to engage meaningfully in the world. 

Williams freshmen who attended the workshop were pleased with the experience.  Students reported that they thought the Career Education Center was a valuable resource and looked forward to future interactions as they pursued their interests inside and beyond Williams.  The workshop created a foundation for intentionality and mindful-decision making and set the precedent for future student conversations about both academic pursuits and career engagement.

Williams is one of many schools thinking hard about the first-year student experience, and the Williams Career Education Office is on the forefront of integrating life and vocational design principles into college life from the get-go.


1.    http://sc.edu/fye/annual18/index.html